Urban Gothic: Great splatterpunk fun

Book Review – Urban Gothic by Brian Keene


I have been reading Brian Keene since 2003 when The Rising was first released. I didn’t really knew who he was at the time, but in those days I continually ordered books from the now deceased Dorchester Publishing because, for some unexplainable reason, they shipped to Mexico for next to nothing rates. So, of course when I saw a book about zombies being released, I pulled the trigger immediately.

Fast forward 12 years and I’ve become an enduring fan of the man, I’ve read over a dozen of his books and he has become one of my go-to authors for a fun and substantial read. No matter what he’s writing, he always delivers a solid, entertaining story.

Shit happens.”
– Javier in Urban Gothic

The plot is simple. Six white kids from the suburbs are returning home from a concert when they, due to their car breaking down, end up getting stuck in a dark street of a ghetto in Philadelphia. When they’re approached by a group of black kids who act in a threatening way, they freak out and end up making a disastrous mistake. They run into an abandoned house of which they can’t get out of, but the worst part is that they are not alone. The house is full of mutated humanoids similar to the ones in The Hills Have Eyes, from then on the novel becomes a hide-and-seek death game loaded with gore, viciousness, and amazing grotesquery.

Urban Gothic is very graphic and violent, but what sets Brian Keene apart from many of his peers is that his prose stays classy throughout the splatter and that he always remains tasteful within the grotesque. This added to the fact that he always takes the time to make each character three dimensional, someone to care for. A perfect example of this is one of the female character’s death, who at some point appears to be the designated ‘Final Girl’, and when she isn’t, feels devastating, especially after all that the character goes through to survive and the amount of story spent on it. But therein lies its greatness too.

As advertised on the back cover Urban Gothic is a Brian Keene homage to Edward Lee, where I got pretty much what I expected. A great, schlocky, over-the-top, gory B-movie experience, also reminiscent of Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum. I loved the characters. I loved the ruthlessness and how I kept guessing who would survive, and how I often was wrong. It’s a lot of great, extreme horror fun.


Urban Gothic
by Brian Keene
Deadite Press

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  1. I really need to get a top 10 list from you. I used to be an avid reader (and still am when I have the time). In my downtown, I could go through a novel a day. This seems like something I would really like!

    • eduardo says:

      I can certainly pass some book on to you Mackenzie. We should have a talk about books, I’m always looking for more of the good stuff too! And you can’t go wrong with anything written by Brian Keene, he’s extremely good and consistent.